The networks that buy the Tate’s art

The acquisition of works for the museum’s collection is supported by a wealth of global patrons


Reading through the Tate’s 2014/15 annual report makes clear how successful the museum has been in building up a vast network of benefactors who sit on its numerous acquisition committees, including the Young Patrons council, Tate Patrons, the International Council and seven international committees (see graphics).

The first international committee founded by the Tate was the North American Acquisitions Committee, which was established in 2001. Funds raised by the committee have enabled the Tate Americas Foundation, a charity founded in 1987 to support North and South American art, to acquire works by hundreds of artists including Sharon Hayes and Mark Bradford. Last month, the fourth triennial dinner held in aid of the foundation raised a hefty $1.5m in New York.

Tapping into the assets and expertise of patrons has been one of the Tate’s trump cards. “The contribution of the committee is not solely financial. The Tate and the committee members themselves benefit from the collective knowledge and network of the group, enhancing the overall level of understanding, whether of an artist’s practice or the specifics of a particular market,” says Amin Jaffer, the international director of Asian art at Christie’s London, who sits on the South Asia Acquisitions Committee. “Existing members sometimes open avenues of funding and support in their respective worlds.”

This network of influence and ideas is key to the Tate’s success. We have analysed the influential network of patrons who make up the museum’s numerous acquisition committees, focusing on its International Council, the chairs of the museum’s seven international acquisitions committees and the Collection Committee, which presents proposed acquisitions to the board of trustees for ratification (see right for the acquisition process).

Many key individuals sit on the boards of other cultural institutions. The Guggenheim Foundation in New York benefits from the largesse of Alia Al-Senussi, Maryam Eisler and Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian. Naturally, UK institutions feature prominently, with the Royal Academy of Arts a major beneficiary. The Serpentine Galleries are also a draw, being backed by Alia Al-Senussi, Catherine Petitgas and Maja Hoffmann (Petitgas sits on the Serpentine's council; Al-Senussi is on the Serpentine Gallery Future Contemporaries Group). London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts also has an extensive patron base, with support from Hoffmann, Maryam Eisler and Fatima Maleki.

The person with the most comprehensive network is the Swiss pharmaceutical heiress Maja Hoffmann, who is associated with 17 other international visual arts organisations, including her own non-profit, the Luma Foundation. Her roles include president of the Kunsthalle Zurich Foundation and board member of the New Museum in New York (the Tate website stresses that she holds no other public appointments in the UK).

Hoffmann is also the chair of the International Council, the most influential and far-reaching of the Tate’s committees. The 198 members listed in the Tate’s 2014/15 annual report (some members wish to remain anonymous) include property developers (Zak Gertler), the Monaco-based billionaire Lily Safra, foreign royalty (Princess Firyal of Jordan), the independent dealer Ivor Braka and collectors such as London-based Jack Kirkland. And Braka is not the only dealer giving the Tate a helping hand. Taymour Grahne, a New York-based gallerist, is a former member of the Middle East and North Africa Acquisitions Committee.

How acquisitions are made at the Tate As outlined in the Tate’s acquisition and disposal policy (approved by the museum’s board of trustees in November 2014; the date of next review is November 2017)

The board of trustees granted two special dispensations:

• The Collection Committee, a sub–committee of the board of trustees, can enter into a contract to buy any work of art up to the value of £250,000.

• The Tate’s director, Nicholas Serota, and the Collection Group can buy any work of art up to the value of £100,000 “without reference to trustees, save to report in retrospect that the transaction has taken place”.

Who sits on which boards? Collection Group

Director: Nicholas Serota

Director of Tate Modern: Frances Morris

Director of Tate Britain: Alex Farquharson

Director of collection (British art): Ann Gallagher

Director of collection (International art): Vacant

Head of collections development: Arianne Lovelace

Acquisitions manager: Patrizia Ribul

Acquisitions assistant: Rebecca Weight

Financial controller: Hilary Pettit

Board of Trustees

Lord Browne (chairman)

John Akomfrah

Lionel Barber

Tom Bloxham

Tim Davie

Mala Gaonkar

Maja Hoffmann

Lisa Milroy

Elisabeth Murdoch

Dame Seona Reid

Hannah Rothschild

Gareth Thomas

Stephen Witherford

Collection Committee

Hannah Rothschild (chair)

John Akomfrah

Briony Fer

Maja Hoffmann

Lisa Milroy

Emmanuel Roman

David Taylor

The Acquisition Committees Seven international acquisition committees consider and fund the proposed acquisitions after the Collection Group approves the selection. These are:

• Tate Americas foundation's North American Acquisitions Committee (NAAC), founded in 2001, co-chaired by Gregory Miller and Christen Wilson

• Tate Americas foundation's Latin American Acquisitions Committee (LAAC), founded in 2002, chaired by Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian

• Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee (APAC), founded in 2007, co-chaired by Alan Lau and Gene Sherman

• Middle East and North Africa Acquisitions Committee (MENAAC), founded in 2009; co-chaired by Maryam Eisler and Maya Rasamny

• African Acquisitions Committee (AAC), founded in 2011, chaired by Mercedes Vilardell

• South Asia acquisitions committee (SAAC), founded in 2012, co-chaired by Lekha Poddar and Rajeeb Samdani

• Russia & Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee (REEAC), founded in 2012, chaired by Kira Flanzraich

Other funds for acquisitions, of both British and international art, are raised by funding groups such as: Tate Members, Tate Patrons, Tate International Council (chair: Maja Hoffmann; vice-chair: Richard Chang), Photography Acquisitions Committee (chairs: Pierre Brahm and Nicolas Cattelain). The Art Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund also award grants to the Tate.

The power structure Who are the members of the Collection committee?

Hannah Rothschild (Chair)

Biography: Writer, filmmaker and company director. She is the eldest child of Jacob Rothschild, the banker and arts philanthropist. She is the National Gallery’s Liaison trustee with the Tate and was formerly a trustee at London’s Whitechapel Gallery and the the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London.

Other cultural committees*: The National Gallery; Artist on Film Trust; Waddesdon Manor (trading subsidiary of the Rothschild Foundation which manages Waddesdon on behalf of the National Trust); Clandestine Films

John Akomfrah

Biography: Akomfrah is an English artist, writer, film director, screenwriter, theorist, curator and founder of the Black Audio Film Collective.

Other cultural committees*: Seagull Films

Briony Fer

Biography: Fer is a British art historian, critic, curator and professor of history of art at University College London.

Maja Hoffmann

Biography: Swiss collector, producer and omnipresent art patron, and also a major shareholder in Hoffmann–La Roche pharmaceutical company. Based in London; founder of the LUMA Foundation. Also a Tate trustee.

Other cultural committees*: Palais de Tokyo; Serpentine Galleries; LUMA Foundation; Kunsthalle Zurich; Venice Biennale; Artangel; Parc des Ateliers, Arles; Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation; Schaulager; The New Museum; Bard College Centre for Curatorial Studies; Van Gogh Foundation; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Swiss Center, New York; Africa Center, New York; Human Rights Watch; Mava Foundation, Gland

Lisa Milroy

Biography: Milroy is a British–Canadian painter, Royal Academician and currently head of graduate painting, Slade School of Fine Art (UCL).

Other cultural committees*: Royal Academy of Arts, London

Emmanuel Roman

Biography: A French businessman, he is CEO of the Man Group, the world's largest listed hedge–fund firm. Wine, art and first editions collector

David Taylor

Biography: Curator of pictures and sculpture, National Trust, UK

Other cultural committees*: Hamilton Kerr Institute (University of Cambridge)

Who are the chairs of the acquisitions committees?

Maja Hoffmann

See above

Richard Chang

Biography: Hong Kong–based investor and director of Tira Holdings, collector and patron. He is the founder of the Domus Collection.

Other cultural committees*: Royal Academy of Arts, London; Museum of Modern Art PS1, New York; Whitney Museum; Art Basel; Performa, New York; Domus Collection, Beijing.

Mercedes Vilardell

Biography: Spanish collector. In 2008, she lent 250 contemporary works on paper for a  show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Alan Lau

Biography: Hong Kong-based collector. Asia co-head of global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company.

Other cultural committees*: Para Site art space, Hong Kong; M+ Museum.

Gene Sherman

Biography: Chairman and executive director of the Sydney-based Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, a philanthropic enterprise dedicated to contemporary art from Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Other cultural committees*: National Gallery of Australia Foundation; Australia-Israel Cultural Exchange; Commissioner’s Council for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian

Biography: Venezuelan–born collector of pre–Columbian and Latin American art.

Other cultural committees*: Guggenheim.

Maryam Eisler

Biography: Iran–born Eisler is a collector, patron, writer and editor. She is also a member of Tate’s International Council, a founding member of the British Museum’s Middle East Committee and a member of the Guggenheim Middle East Circle.

Other cultural committees*: British Museum; Whitechapel Gallery; Delfina Foundation; Photo London; Guggenheim; Prix Pictet Photography Prize; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Davis Museum, Wellesley College.

Maya Rasamny

Biography: Born in Lebanon, Rasamny is a collector and patron based in London. Her husband, Ramzy, is the CEO of Plurimi, an investment and wealth management firm.

Other cultural committees:* Art Dubai; The Arts Club; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; The British Museum; MoMA; Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Gregory Miller

Biography: Managing director of the investment bank, Greenhill & Co, New York.

Other cultural committees:* White Columns; Whitney Museum of American Art; MoMA; Printed Matter; Alliance for Young Artists & Writers; Triple Canopy.

Christen Wilson

Biography: Dallas-based collector.

Other cultural committees:* Whitney Museum of American Art.

Pierre Brahm

Biography: Brahm is Chairman Henry & James property agents; managing director, Brahm Interiors.

Other cultural committees:* Kraszna–Krausz Foundation; The Photographers’ Gallery; National Media Museum.

Nicolas Cattelain

Biography: A former finance entrepreneur, French–born Cattelain is now a full–time collector. Based in London.

Other cultural committees:* Museo Reina Sofia; The Wallace Collection.

Kira Flanzraich

Biography: Russian–born Flanzraich is based in Miami, and sits on Tate’s North American acquisitions committee.

Other cultural committees:* MoCA NoMi; ICA Miami; The Wolfsonian.

Lekha Poddar

Biography: Based in New Dehli, Poddar runs the Devi Art Foundation with her son, Anupam. The Foundation's programme is based on the organisation's holdings.

Other cultural committees:* Devi Art Foundation; Art Dubai; Textile Arts of India.

Rajeeb Samdani

Biography: Samdani is a Bangladesh–based industrialist, and CEO of Golden Harvest Agro Industries. With his wife Nadia, he founded the Samdani Art Foundation. He sits on the International Council. Both Nadia and Rajeeb are founding members of South Asia Institute, Harvard University.

Other cultural committees:* Samdani Art Foundation; Dhaka Art Summit; New Museum; Delfina Foundation; Parasol Unit; Kunsthalle Basel; Alserkal Avenue, Dubai

Other Key Figures on the Acquisition Committees

Fatima Maleki

(International Council, Laac and Menaac)

Biography: Iranian born collector and patron, and also owns Old Master works. Also a Tate Platinum patron. Her husband, Eskandar Maleki, is ex-director of Tullow Oil.

Other cultural committees:* Royal Academy of Arts, London; Photo London; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Art Dubai; Prix Pictet; ArtAngel; Parasol Unit; Victoria and Albert Museum; Guggenheim; Magic of Persia

Alia Al–Senussi

(Young Patrons (chair) and Menaac)

Biography: HRH Princess Alia Al–Senussi, a descendant of the Libyan Royal Family, is a collector and arts patron. Al–Senussi is also on the UK board of the Global Heritage Fund, and a member of  Generation Three Family Partners, a Swiss company offering “investment, philanthropy, art and lifestyle services”.

Other cultural committees:* Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Art Basel; Art Dubai; Serpentine Galleries; Guggenheim; The Chinati Foundation; Ikon Gallery; Parasol Unit; 1:54 African Art Fair; Delfina Foundation; Rolls–Royce Art Programme

Catherine Petitgas

(International Council and Laac)

Biography: Collector, curator and expert in Latin American Art. Executive editor of Contemporary Art Colombia, due to be published this autumn (Transglobe/Thames & Hudson). Her husband is Franck Petitgas, global co-head of investment banking at Morgan Stanley.

Other cultural committees:* Whitechapel Gallery; Gasworks/ Triangle Network; Fluxus Art Projects; Centre Pompidou; Serpentine Galleries; South London Gallery; Tiroche DeLeon Collection; Pinta Art Fair; Delfina Foundation; Farfetch ambassador

Estrellita Brodsky

(Laac/tate americas)

Biography: Brodsky is a curator, collector, and writer, specialising in Latin American Art. She is a trustee of the Tate Americas Foundation. Daniel, her husband, is one of the leading Manhattan Property developers (he is currently Chairman of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). They run the Daniel & Estrellita Brodsky Family Foundation, and  have funded two curatorial posts at the Met, and one at Tate Modern.

Other cultural committees:* Institute of Fine Arts New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; El Museo Del Barrio; MoMA.

* Supports either as a trustee, advisory council member, founder, or donor etc.